ADLER, Russia — He'll play for the consolation prize now, the bronze medal. But first we'll give Teemu Selanne an even bigger consolation prize:
The pink eye.
Here you go, Teemu: You are, without question, tougher than Bob Costas. OK, maybe this prize is less consolation, more booby, but we're trying to cheer up someone who normally smiles a lot more than most people.
Proving himself to be tougher than a 61-year-old, 5-foot-6 broadcaster isn't the reason Selanne traveled 7,000 miles to get here. Neither was losing to Sweden, 2-1, in the semifinals of the Sochi Olympics.
But right now, entering the third-place game Saturday, you'd think that's all Selanne has - a worthless prize and a wasted opportunity.
You'd think. But not this guy, Selanne promising after Finland's previous game, a monumental victory over Russia, that he'll have "a smile on my face the whole tournament."
As much as he hated losing to the Swedes ï¿½ and Selanne detailed his disappointment repeatedly afterward, to television and print journalists, in two languages no less ï¿½ he still loves what he's doing here, at 43 captaining his national team in his final Olympics.
What he lost Friday was a game, just a game, not his grasp of everything else surrounding it.
He played nearly 20 minutes, the second-most on Team Finland and more than he has played in a single game for the Ducks in nearly two years. He's an athlete; playing is what makes athletes happy.
After the Russia victory, when someone asked Selanne if he and his teammates just became the most despised team here, he was moved to offer some perspective to a bunch of reporters who were supposed to be the ones providing perspective.
"Come on," Selanne said. "It's still just sports. It's the Olympics and that's big. But it's only a game."
And so, of course, he smiled Friday when we asked about the eye infection he arrived here with, the infection that has only worsened of late, leaving Selanne with a condition that appears almost vodka-induced.
NBC's Costas had a similar ailment and was knocked off the air. But Selanne has played on, bloodshot but hardly bloodied.
"Makes me look tougher," Selanne said, joking. "I need that."
Then he smiled again as he walked away, and we couldn't stop thinking about Russia's hockey coach, who, after the loss to Finland, was pressed by reporters about his role in the team's failure and the possibility of him now losing his job, if not something worse.
"Eat me alive right now," Zinetula Bilyaletdinov said. "Eat me, and I won't be here anymore."
True, it might be easier for Selanne to be happy than it is for the rest of us. He's the one with the Hall of Fame career, the Stanley Cup title, the three Olympic medals, the 20-plus cars and the fans tattooing his likeness on their bodies.
But if that sort of rich man's toy box guaranteed happiness than professional athletes would be the happiest people on earth. Trust us, that isn't always the case. We're spent enough time around the Angels to know.
"This is hockey, and there are highs and lows," Selanne said. "This is really a low right now. Of course I'm disappointed. But it's something you have to accept, you know. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a high again."
One game after having a goal and an assist, Selanne didn't do much against the Swedes. He had two scoring chances in the first period but was stopped by goalie Henrik Lundqvist on one and fanned on the other.
He officially finished with two shots on goal and, to be honest, it's hard to remember the second one.
"I'm more disappointed that we couldn't play our best game in the tournament," Selanne said. "If we had done that, I think we would have won. I'm more disappointed in that than the result."
He finished the game without making much of an impact, something that most certainly can't be said of his career.
"I have total, absolute respect for Teemu Selanne," Swedish defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "Absolute."
So Selanne's Olympic run is down to its final game, and the story would read a lot better if the Finns were playing for his first Winter Games title. Going for bronze doesn't inspire much emotion.
But he said winning any medal here would be big and he sure sounded sincere. Of course, it's easier to believe a man when he looks you in the eyes, allowing you to look right back at him, through the infection and all that bloodshot mess.
Tougher than Costas, a man who is the subject of a Facebook page dedicated to promoting the idea he's a weasel. Selanne will have that hanging around his neck no matter what happens Saturday, and some consolation prizes are more consolation than actual prize.
The fact is we did nothing to cheer up Teemu Selanne on Friday. But the more significant fact is he didn't need us to.